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Metro’s rush hour malfunction
Just a week or so after Kipp sings Dubai Metro's praises, a rush hour technical issue creates mild chaos for passengers. Did we jinx it, or just speak too soon?
October 25, 2010 8:53 by Eva Fernandes
Just as we shower the metro with praise for getting its act together, it seems we spoke too soon. Getting to work by train took me an hour extra than usual and I still don’t know why. According to the announcements that rang through the platform, one of the trains was facing ‘technical problems’. What the announcements failed to inform us, was that thanks to these ‘technical problems’ the train heading to Ibn Batuta would be delayed by more than 45 minutes.
Getting on at the Khalid Bin Waleed station, I headed towards Nakheel as I always do at 7:20. Then, at approximately 7:45 at Business Bay station an announcement was made on board the train informing us that it would terminate at that station and all passengers were required to disembark. Confused, the packed train stumbled out and waited on the platform, hoping for further information—but it never came. I decided I would go down to the information desk; I checked out of the station to get to the information desk, but my efforts were in vain as the clueless lady at the desk merely blurted, ‘the train comes every 8 minutes maam.’
After ten minutes a train passed and we were on our way again, but we were then informed that the this one would terminate at Mall of the Emirates station (barely five minutes away) and that we were to get a shuttle train to IBB (that’s what they call it, we are not making it up) by switching platforms. And so off the crowd shuffled, down one platform, impatiently assembling at the other, waiting for what we didn’t know would be forty five minutes. In the period that we were waiting for the ‘shuttle train,’ passengers from the following trains travelling to ‘IBB’ were, like us, forced to disembark were being restrained by security guards. The guards were not letting any more people switch platforms to get the connecting trains, presumably because the crowd at the platform was too large already.
And what a crowd it was. Nervously glancing at their watches every two minutes, the air was abuzz with restless frustration—after all we all had somewhere to be an hour ago. Cell phones were being whipped out as passengers were calling up their work, friends or quite possibly their connecting ride- informing them about the delay. Others took to laughing about how the delay made them feel homesick. Eventually the train arrived (from the opposite direction) and though no one knew whether it was headed in the direction of IBB, we greedily hopped on—and the train ran like it always did.
What can I say, other than I am disappointed with the metro. While I understand that technical difficulties are bound to arise and significant amount confusion will follow, the best approach to reduce confusion is to regularly keep the passenger informed with what was happening. All that we hear d throughout the delay was the same message that a ‘technical problem’ had occurred and passengers should board Platform No.2. Or alternatively, possibly the RTA could have arranged a feeder bus to take the restrained crowd that was accumulating at the MOE station to another station.
Maybe this was just one of the first experiences the metro has had with ‘technical problems’ during rush hour, but honestly, we expected better.